The Poetry of A. E. Housman

This essay has a total of 875 words and 3 pages.

The Poetry of A. E. Housman

The Poetry of A. E. Housman


Housman was born in Burton-On-Trent, England, in 1865, just as the US Civil War was
ending. As a young child, he was disturbed by the news of slaughter from the former
British colonies, and was affected deeply. This turned him into a brooding, introverted
teenager and a misanthropic, pessimistic adult. This outlook on life shows clearly in his
poetry. Housman believed that people were generally evil, and that life conspired against
mankind. This is evident not only in his poetry, but also in his short stories. For
example, his story, "The Child of Lancashire," published in 1893 in The London Gazette, is
about an child who travels to London, where his parents die, and he becomes a street
urchin. There are veiled implications that the child is a homosexual (as was Housman, most
probably), and he becomes mixed up with a gang of similar youths, attacking affluent
pedestrians and stealing their watches and gold coins. Eventually he leaves the gang and
becomes wealthy, but is attacked by the same gang (who don't recognize him) and is thrown
off London Bridge into the Thames, which is unfortunately frozen over, and is killed on
the hard ice below. Housman's poetry is similarly pessimistic. In fully half the poems the
speaker is dead. In others, he is about to die or wants to die, or his girlfriend is dead.
Death is a really important stage of life to Housman; without death, Housman would
probably not have been able to be a poet. (Housman, himself, died in 1937.) A few of his
poems show an uncharacteristic optimism and love of beauty, however. For example, in his
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